Seals, Wright take part in UA All-American Game
HUNTINGTON - On Thursday evening, Huntington High offensive lineman Darnell Wright showcased his abilities against some of the nation’s best as Team Flash took on Team Ballaholics in the Under Armour All-American Game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
While the game featured many of the nation’s top players, eyes were on Wright, who is one of the country’s highest-rated prospects for the Class of 2019 to not have signed a National Letter of Intent yet. That left this week’s practices and activities in Orlando as an open ground for Under Armour All-Americans who have already signed to make a recruiting pitch to Wright.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound blue chip prospect for Team Flash was the center of attention with players and media members.
“As soon as we got here in Orlando, it is set up to where you have to walk by the media area on your way to your room,” said Huntington High head coach Billy Seals, an assistant coach working with Team Flash linebackers. “As soon as he walked in, they sit him down and there’s 10 or 15 microphones in his face. In addition to the interview process, there have been a lot of kids who have talked to him about coming to where they’ve signed, too, and they’re trying to recruit him. He’s handled it all well and has enjoyed being around all the other players and going through the process.”
The veteran coach of the Highlanders said the opportunity to share the game with Wright was special.
“No. 1, you’ve got to thank Darnell,” Seals said. “I wouldn’t be here without his ability to play. I’ve got to thank him and appreciate everything he’s done for our program. Just to be around the top 60 or 70 players in the country is just unbelievable. Their commitment to being the best players they can be is amazing.”
Seals said the most noticeable difference between players who are good and the elite-level players and linebackers he coached this week comes down to one aspect of their game: coachability.
“Every kid that I’ve coached this week at linebacker - all eight guys - have just been the most respectful, open-eared, coachable young men that I’ve dealt with,” Seals said. “Sometimes, you get kids who think they’ve got it all figured out, but these guys have been all ears and have tried to do everything that we’ve coached them up to do this week, so it’s just been a great experience for me.”
For all the competitors in the game, the beauty of the contest is they test themselves against the best in the nation.
While that is an honor, it also comes with a responsibility to come in with a prepared mindset that there are no repetitions to take off. If a player takes a snap off during drills the talent across from them is such that they get exposed.
Seals said that was one aspect that helped Wright tremendously this week.
“It’s no secret that the kids that he’s seen this week, you don’t see every game in West Virginia,” Seals said. “To see those type of kids play and play against elite-level competition and to see their confidence increase. They have to play every snap here, and that’s what you need to see.”
While Wright is one of the top tackle prospects in the nation, this week offered him a new opportunity to line up at guard and show his versatility as an all-around lineman.
Given the talent he was up against, the ability to show he can play outside or inside boosted his stock with interested college teams still in the running for his services on National Signing Day in February.
“The first day, he was a little slow starting out because he’d never played guard before, but I tell you what, Tuesday and Wednesday, he was the best lineman on the field,” Seals said. “That’s not me being biased. That’s what all the media guys and coaches said. He had a great week of practice and he’s competed while learning to play guard too.”
Wright is not the only area standout offensive lineman getting some national spotlight this week.
Spring Valley offensive lineman Doug Nester, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound Ohio State commitment, is in San Antonio where he will take part in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Game.